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The Alaska Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) Provides

Two Plans Based On Employment Date

The Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) is Alaska’s largest state pension program. Designed to supplement the savings of state employees upon retirement, your PERS retirement benefits are intended to combine with other income and savings to help provide you with a financially-secure retirement.

PERS participants hired prior to July 1, 2006, are members of the Defined Benefit (DB) Plan. Those hired on or after July 1, 2006, are members of the Defined Contribution Retirement (DCR) Plan.

Add to this, there are four separate tiers for PERS based on your starting employment date and each tier differs in the benefits package it provides.

Defined Benefit (DB) Plan

As a participant in the Defined Benefit (DB) retirement plan, you receive a pension benefit determined by your length of employment, salary level and age. Your retirement age may be 55 or 60 depending upon your tier. Your PERS benefit is based on the number of years you’ve served and your average monthly salary. Your PERS contribution rate is determined by your type of employment.

Defined Contribution Retirement (DCR) Plan

If you were hired on or after July 1, 2006, you fall under the Defined Contribution Retirement (DCR) Plan which is governed by section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. As a retirement savings plan, a pre-tax portion of your wages, plus an employer contribution, are made to your account. Since this plan is participant-directed it offers you a choice of investment options.

Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)

Established in 1966, the Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) defrays the higher cost of living in Alaska for retirees who remain in the state. PERS participants receive 10% of their base retirement benefit or a minimum of $50 per month, whichever is larger. COLA benefits end if you choose to leave Alaska and establish residence elsewhere. However, you are allowed to take trips outside of the state of Alaska for no more than 91 days and still retain your COLA benefits.

Voluntary Savings Plan

Also known as the Employee’s Savings Account, you have the option to contribute voluntary, post-tax savings to fund your account. Your contributions to the Voluntary Savings Plan are fully separate and independent of your mandatory PERS contributions to the retirement system.

Other Alaska Pension Plans

In addition to PERS, Alaska provides four other specialized pension plans:
  • 1.Teachers Retirement System (TRS)
  • 2.National Guard and Naval Militia Retirement System (NGNMRS)
  • 3.Judicial Retirement System (JRS)
  • 4.Elected Public Official Retirement System (EPORS)
Alaska Pension Plan


How long do I need to work
before I am vested in PERS?

For PERS participants in the Defined Benefit (DB) plan, you are vested when you have at least five (5) paid-up years of membership service. For PERS participants in the Defined Contribution Retirement (DCR) plan, your contributions, and any earnings they generate, are always 100% vested. Employer contributions to the DCR Plan, plus any earnings they generate, are vested 100% after five years of employment.

What is the PERS retirement Age?

The PERS retirement age varies, from age 55 to 60, depending upon your tier; tiers are based on your starting employment date.

Do I have to pay Federal Income Taxes on PERS retirement benefit?

PERS Tiers I through III retirement benefits are taxable by the Federal government however a portion of your monthly benefit may be tax excludable. Since PERS Tier IV is a pre-tax savings plan, the amount of taxes you pay are determined by whether you take retirement payments directly or make a direct transfer to a traditional IRA or other qualified plan.

Will my PERS retirement benefits reduce
the Social Security Benefits I receive?

Not all PERS employees participate in Social Security. Your PERS benefit may reduce the amount of benefits you are entitled to receive under Social Security if you did not pay Social Security taxes during your PERS covered employment. If you paid Social Security taxes during your PERS covered employment, there will be no reduction to your Social Security benefits. If you don’t know whether you paid Social Security taxes during your employment, contact your PERS employer.

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Pension Navigators is an educational organization dedicated to helping State Employees make informed decisions when planning their retirement. The educational resources we provide are designed to provide them with the most current information on their State Pension Benefits plus strategies for achieving their retirement income goals.

This website provides an overview of what we can provide to State Pension Agencies to help their employees stay current on the latest rules and requirements of their pension plans.


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